One of the biggest challenges in creating a naturalized garden in Ottawa is finding native nursery stock. I attended a public lecture this past winter on attracting wildlife to a garden that was given by the friends of the Central Experimental Farm and Fletcher Wildlife Garden. The Ferguson Forest Center in Kemptville came up at this talk as a place to purchase shrubs and trees as did the Evergreen Canada on-line database of native plants.
In order to determine what to plant along a partially-shaded strip to the West of our house I used Evergreen Canada’s database. This database is a fantastic resource allowing you to search for plants according to about 50 different criteria and enabling you to create on-line lists and projects for your gardens. I came up with a list of ten plants for my particular project that were under 3 m, tolerant of drought, tolerant of shade, provide food for a variety of wildlife and are native to Ontario.
The May Two-Four weekend being the traditional time to plant in Ottawa (amongst other activities), my husband and I set out in a Vrtucar for Kemptville early Saturday morning (Ferguson Forest Centre is open to the general public on weekdays and from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm on Saturdays). Clear directions on getting to the Centre are available on their website.
The prices on container stock were extremely reasonable: $10 per pot. And the plants themselves looked healthy and in the case of the dogwood I purchased were about 3 to 4 feet in height. Much better prices than anything you’ll find at a nursery in town and the centre was originally set up to supply stock for large scale reforestation projects so there is an emphasis on native plants that you won’t find elsewhere. Using the Ferguson Forest Centre an average sized urban garden could easily be renaturalized for under $250.
Ferguson Forest Centre, 275 County Rd. 44, R.R. #4, Kemptville, Ontario, K0G 1J0, (613) 258-0110, Toll Free at 1-888-791-1103